Giving Thanks for our Veterans

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Throughout the calendar year people observe many special days. There are personal days to celebrate births, weddings, work anniversaries, graduations, and the like. Religious holidays abound! As a country we celebrate many national observances, but one in particular is set to observe personal sacrifice in service to our country and its very foundation.

On Wednesday, November 11, 2020, we celebrate Veteran’s Day. The United States of America  is founded on the concept of individual freedoms and self-governance, but those freedoms came at a great price. Beginning with our founding fathers, people have made personal sacrifices to serve in defense of our constitutional rights. Many service men and women have given their all so that we might be able to live in a country where we are free to vote, to speak our minds, to worship as we choose, and to strive for the American Dream. These people were heroes because of the stand they took. We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.

Many of these heroes walk among us today; they work in our offices, shop in our grocery stores, and live in our neighborhoods. Some are still on active duty, while others have retired, fulfilled their term of service, or sustained some injury or disability during their service that necessitated a discharge. Each man or woman who has served our country has a story to tell. Some bear the visible scars of their sacrificial season of service, while others live with hidden demons that haunt their hours by day or by night. Whatever the story may be, I encourage you to explore the experiences of veterans you know as you have the chance to do so. You might gain new insights into a life spent in military service.

God calls people to serve Him in a variety of ways; Betsy and I are grateful that He called some to serve in our country’s armed forces, to protect freedom both at home and abroad. We both have family members who served in the Armed Forces and we share a deep love for our veterans. If you have the honor of caring for a loved one who is a veteran, please thank them for their service during this week. Do something tangible to remember our fallen and celebrate our survivors. Take time to reflect on the freedoms you can enjoy today because of heroes through the ages who have fought to defend those rights and privileges. 

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about sharing appreciation for our Veterans.

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Giving Thanks for Family Caregivers and Their Stories

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I always think of November as the thankful month. Of course, we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, but it seems an excellent time to fully immerse myself in gratitude for a multitude of blessings. I am thankful for my family, good friends, satisfying work, opportunities to worship with my church family, and God’s gift of salvation in my life. I’m blessed to be able to honor God daily by helping others. One of my biggest blessings is the opportunity to help family caregivers find support, encouragement, and resources through Heart of the Caregiver.

God calls family caregivers to the difficult challenge of caring for others, usually aging family members. These gifted individuals are unsung heroes in many homes throughout our community today; they work tirelessly behind closed doors in quiet communities everywhere. Whether they care for spouses, grandparents, parents, or even adult children with chronic conditions or life challenges, they pour themselves out in care for others. We honor and thank all family caregivers during National Family Caregiver month!

Whether you give the hands-on care yourself or coordinate that care through others, you fulfill an important and irreplaceable role in our world today. You enable others to live at home, surrounded by familiar sights, sounds, and smells. You foster a safe level of independence while maintaining a healthy environment, medication management, and adequate socialization. Unfortunately, providing care yourself can leave you feeling exhausted and empty. It would be best if you found ways to re-energize yourself and reframe the care you are giving with creativity and innovation.

Have you ever pictured yourself, in the role of a family caregiver, as a family archivist? Seniors have a deep reservoir of wisdom and life experience that, when tapped, can be of great benefit to young and old alike. Family caregivers are uniquely positioned to capture, cultivate, and then communicate those insights and life lessons through conversations and storytelling opportunities. I call these the 3Cs of Family Storytelling. You can begin discussions with aging loved ones from which come seeds that blossom into beautiful tales of family experiences down through the ages.

You will need to decide how you will implement the 3Cs. Here are a few suggestions:

Capture: Initiate conversations with your loved one about their childhood, family gatherings and traditions, old friends, special events (like when Uncle Henry went off to war), and the like. You could go through old photos together to spark these conversations. 


  1. Draw out nuances from time to time as you revisit these conversation topics.
  2. Let the conversation wander naturally and ask open-ended questions to gather more color.
  3. Encourage other family members or caregivers to add to your information this way and let your archives grow. You might also engage older family members to fill in the blanks or add details to enrich the family stories. 

Communicate: Share what you are learning and gathering with others connected to your family when you have opportunities to do so. During the holidays, family gatherings offer a natural time to swap stories and resurrect memories that foster a shared heritage, laughter, and hope. Family newsletters are also a popular way to keep others in the conversation. If family caregivers don’t try to find and record these rare nuggets, invaluable wisdom and family lore might be lost forever.

If you’d like more information on the 3Cs, please comment below or email me, and I’ll be happy to send you the document.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about ways to capture, cultivate, and communicate family stories throughout the holidays!

The Danger of Resisting Care

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Betsy and I were both raised by parents born in the first quarter of the 20th century. We were raised on stories of war, poverty, struggles for gender and racial equality, and the like. Members of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations have proven themselves to be resilient and self-reliant repeatedly during their lifetimes. The Great Depression, two World Wars and many more localized military actions, assassinations of national leaders, racial tensions, and terrorism have all added stamina and stress to their lives.

With all the fortitude they have built up, is it any wonder that when our aging loved ones begin to need help, they remain obstinately insistent that they can manage things just fine on their own? Our own mothers both lived well into their 80’s as strong-willed, independent widows who still drove, volunteered in church and community, and needed virtually no help to maintain their self-sufficiency. After all, to admit they needed help would feel like a weakness or vulnerability, and that was totally unacceptable!

There are lots of reasons why aging family members refuse to accept offers of help or support. Many older people don’t want to be a burden on their adult children or other family members. Sometimes money is of concern and they don’t feel they can afford in-home care. Add to that a resistance born of fear that if a stranger comes into the home they could steal precious family heirlooms or money. Theft is a commonly expressed fear of seniors needing assistance in their homes. Occasionally the senior is in denial or doesn’t recognize that they are unsafe living alone. Depression or chronic illness can also contribute to a reluctance to accept help. And sometimes they are like my mother, who stubbornly refused to have anyone in her home to help her as she grew older!

Whatever the reason for resisting help, the truth is that many seniors could continue to live safely and securely at home for much longer with just a little assistance from a helper or caregiver. While Betsy’s mother also resisted care at first, she finally allowed her son to get her a caregiver to come in a couple of times a week. The companionship and help with housekeeping began as a guarded acceptance and grew into a beautiful friendship that lasted the rest of Sarah’s life. What started as 2 visits weekly blossomed into daily caregivers who helped her with bathing, dressing, driving for errands, preparing meals, and keeping house. This dependable service allowed Betsy to visit her mom regularly and be the daughter instead of the caregiver. Sarah came to trust and rely on her caregivers, and Betsy and her brother had peace of mind in knowing someone was there every day to make sure Sarah was healthy and happy.

One important factor in helping Sarah come to accept care was choosing a reliable home care company that would handle scheduling, staffing, and staying on top of Sarah’s daily care. This freed both Betsy and Billy up to handle their responsibilities at work and at home. Using a professional home care company costs more than hiring private individuals, but they are responsible when things go wrong, the caregiver can’t come, or something in the home gets broken or goes missing. Also, the caregivers are thoroughly trained to give the appropriate care and to recognize when something is wrong. Finally, they worked with Sarah on physical therapy exercises, helped her stay on top of her medication schedule, and alerted someone when she wasn’t eating normally or exhibited lethargy. These alerts helped her children get her to her doctor for medical intervention when needed.

So how did Betsy and Billy get their mother to accept the care and assistance she needed when the time came? Over time, before the need became critical, they began a conversation with her about how much they cared about her, and how worried they were when they weren’t with her. They reinforced these points gently and persistently over a couple of years and wore down her resistance with their continued expressions of love, care, and concern. Honestly shared feelings of fear, concern, and love finally won the day.

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about helping your loved ones accept help at home.

The Dangers of Social Isolation

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I had never heard the term “social isolation” until about 2 years ago. In general, this term means being socially disconnected from your world, and its effects can be detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing. Social isolation can happen to anyone who is, by chance or by choice, unable to interact with others frequently and regularly. It’s one of the reasons why your role as a family caregiver is so important! You help prevent social isolation with your aging loved ones. But what about you?

Being a family caregiver can be a lonely job. If you are a full-time family caregiver you might feel isolated and forgotten by the rest of the world. When caring for someone who needs constant support, you probably don’t get away as often as you should to mingle with friends, spend time with other family members, or participate in church or community activities. Without these social interactions, family caregivers are vulnerable to a great number of health risks! Heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, depression and even Alzheimer’s disease or mental fogginess have been linked in many cases to social isolation.

This has been especially true during recent months with the COVID-19 pandemic. Older people were warned that they were especially vulnerable to the virus and asked to stay at home as much as possible. This self-imposed isolation caused rapid declines on many levels, including family caregivers and those they care for. Stress levels increased significantly, as did diagnoses of depression. Physical activity was limited with local gyms forced to close, mental stimulation was dramatically reduced as classrooms and meeting spaces were shut down, and emotional health certainly suffered. With churches not allowed to meet, spiritual health was also impacted negatively.

So enough about all the bad stuff. How do you combat social isolation? Well, even in this world of pandemic protocols there are still ways to connect with others and beat back the loneliness! But you must be intentional and do everything you can to help both yourself and those in your care. The following are some suggestions gleaned from my years of working with my mother and observing other family caregivers who also struggled with this phenomenon.

  1. Keep moving! Even taking a daily walk will make you feel better overall. If your mom or dad can’t walk, get them to join you in chair exercises. Play music and dance in the living room, or wave your arms around and be the conductor. Just move throughout the day.
  2. Eat on a regular schedule and establish routines that keep you moving forward. Manage your day, don’t be managed by it. This gives you both a sense of purpose and control.
  3. Make technology your friend if you haven’t already done so. I’m guessing, if you are reading this, then you are already online (unless someone else printed it out to share with you). Engage in social media on some level! It doesn’t have to be Facebook, but there are online support groups and chat rooms that can be very encouraging and uplifting! Go searching and see what you can find. It doesn’t have to be about caregiving; explore a new hobby, or resume an old one, and find a group that shares your interest.
  4. Zoom! It’s the new buzzword! I know that early on Zoom had some security issues, but nothing beats seeing the person you are talking with. Through Zoom several people can get together remotely, see each other’s faces, and have meetings or conversations with great results. I’ve seen families get together this way for meals, groups come together to swap ideas for how to manage in the pandemic workplace, and friends find ways to stay connected through these difficult days. Learn more about video calls and find the platform that best meets your needs.
  5. If technology really isn’t your thing, then your phone is your best friend. Use it often to call friends and family members. You can send texts, emails, cards and letters, but they are no replacement for the voice of a friend in a real-time conversation. Schedule calls so you can both plan the time to focus and engage in a meaningful dialogue.
  6. Nurture your soul. Find a Bible study or prayer group you can join, either in person or remotely. Check to see if your church is offering anything like this with remote options. Of course, keep those pandemic protocols! Masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing are still the key to in-person groups, and we don’t want you being exposed to the virus and bringing it home to your older relatives. Meetings over Zoom or Facetime have become commonplace in our COVID world today. Don’t fear this technology; use it to your advantage to connect with others and find the support you need.
  7. Reach out to relatives or church members, neighbors, and others connected to your aging family members. Ask for their help in preventing social isolation for those in your care. Visits are tricky right now, but ask for commitments to call, come by for a yard visit, even make a poster to hold up from the street letting them know they are not forgotten during this time. Involve your own support team to help make social connections a regular occurrence within the household.

I hope I have given you a jumping off place from which to think about your own social isolation as well as how this impacts your loved ones. Please reach out if you need to talk through specific situations and I’ll be happy to help you brainstorm ways to engage and reconnect with others in meaningful and fulfilling ways.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about overcoming the dangers of social isolation.

Keeping Healthy Routines in Focus

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For better than six months now we’ve all been living with a pandemic; concepts like social distancing have dramatically changed how we do everything from workplace etiquette to family gatherings like weddings, reunions, and funerals! During this time it’s easy to lose track of weekdays, regular responsibilities, and important dates or events, but do you follow some sort of routine most days? It’s important that you do, because healthy routines are good for you; they support your stamina, your immunity, and your vitality.

First, you should be paying attention to good nutrition, adequate sleep, and daily exercise. These are foundational to maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health during the pandemic. Fruit and vegetables should be generously present in your daily menu and drink lots of water! Along with lean protein, these elements are critical to boosting your immune system and keeping your physical body healthy and strong. Try to avoid heavily processed foods loaded with added sugar, salt, and preservatives. Next, go to bed at the same time each night and sleep for 7-8 hours for best benefit. Set up a bedtime routine that helps you wind down and relax. Make your room cooler if possible and be sure it is dark as well. Exercise is also important. Even a brisk walk around the block gives you added energy, and a sweaty workout several times a week will improve your brain function as well as your bone strength and your heart and lung capacity! Of course, as with any significant change in your routine, consult with your doctor before beginning a new health habit!

But how well you eat, sleep, and exercise are just a part of the healthy routine that supports your ability to fulfill your role as a family caregiver. Another vital part of your routine should be the time you spend in Scripture study, devotional readings, and prayer. Giving yourself time to ponder and strengthen your relationship with your Creator and Savior is crucial to your spiritual health. Prayer and meditation can help reduce your stress level and even bring insights on challenging situations. Gathering for fellowship with other believers also nurtures your social well-being as well as your spiritual stamina.

Your emotional and social health are also dependent on time spent nurturing relationships and feeding your personal needs. Don’t neglect family ties and friendships, even if you can only meet over Zoom or another video chat option. Schedule these times just like you would meet for coffee. I’ve heard great stories lately about how people have learned to do this to reconnect and find encouragement during the tough times in which we live.

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how you maintain healthy routines.

Aging Safely at Home

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Today my heart is heavy as I grieve the loss of an old friend to COVID. The theme of staying safely at home is more relevant than ever in light of the dangers the 2020 pandemic brings to unexpected sectors of our society. My friend was barely 60 years old, still working and golfing and hanging out with friends. Everyone loved him. He was a son, a husband, a father, a business leader, and a faithful friend. When he contracted COVID-19 everyone expected him to be able to recover quickly; instead over several weeks he was hospitalized, intubated, transferred to a more advanced hospital, and then moved to a long-term care facility where he died on October 4. His life was cut short by a capricious virus that claims young and old alike. This series of messages about home safety (not COVID-related) is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Harwell from Dublin, GA, a good man who didn’t have the opportunity to grow old safely at home.

If we are honest, we know that home is where most people want to stay as they grow older. Our house has almost everything we could want. Over time as we build our “nest,” we surround ourselves with possessions that give us pleasure, comfort, and a sense of safety and familiarity. Often, it’s where we raised our children, held gatherings with family members and friends, and made the memories of a lifetime. Some families move around and home changes, while others live in the same homeplace for generations. Whether the place where you live is big or small, old or new, multi-level or ranch, it’s home sweet home.

As we age, our abilities may start to decline, and we might find it harder to live safely in the home that we love. Your dwelling might have elements like stairs, low lighting, clutter, or tub-showers that don’t seem like dangers to someone in their thirties or forties. Still, these features can become deadly to those much older. Some threats are easily seen, like frayed electrical wires damaged by pets or furniture friction. Overloaded extension cords that build up over time might be visible or could hide behind sofas or corner tables. Expired medications or foods can also pose unanticipated dangers to older adults.

Other dangers are more easily missed by the untrained eye. My mother had a colorful throw rug in her den. She loved that rug, but as she grew older, it’s wrinkles and creeping ridges became treacherous to her more shuffling gait. One evening when my family was visiting, Chris was sitting on the floor playing with our son. As my mother crossed the room, her foot caught in the rug, and she fell. Chris reached up and caught her before she got hurt. While she adamantly refused to give up the carpet during that visit, it was rolled up and waiting for me to take it home with me when I next came to see her.

Raised doorway thresholds pose a similar threat because they might also ensnare the foot that occasionally drags, causing a sudden and unexpected fall that might end in hospitalization. Low toilet seats are hard to rise from for someone with arthritic joints, balance issues, or leg weakness, and more dangerous if safety grab-bars are not securely installed. Poorly placed light switches can cause someone with age-related eyesight problems to trip and fall as they cross a dark room to turn on the lights. Spaces overcrowded with furniture can also cause bumps, bruises, and falls. Bathroom fixtures like tub/shower units that require the bather to step up and over the tub wall can further endanger your unsuspecting loved one.

It might seem like falling is the greatest danger to continuing to live at home, and in fact, it is. Click here for a Home Safety Checklist that covers the risks mentioned above and more to help you and those you care for to remain safe as we all age together in the place we call home.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how to safely grow older at home.

Options: Continuing Care Retirement Communities

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Every month Chris and I explore another option in your Care Arsenal, and this month we will help you understand what Continuing Care Retirement Communities are. For short, we call these types of care communities “CCRC’s.”

Sometimes CCRC’s are called Life-Care Communities. A CCRC is a retirement community that covers a full range of aging services and levels of care, from independent living cottages or apartments to assisted living housing, to full-blown skilled nursing services. In most cases, each change in care-level requires a move to new living quarters. The different levels of care may all be housed on different floors of a high-rise building or in different wings or buildings across a single campus.

Independent living is usually the entry-level for most residents. The idea is that residents enjoy a higher quality of life in a community of peers with similar life experiences. Independent living residents experience maintenance-free housing and landscaping, housekeeping services, and sometimes even congregational meals in a restaurant-style dining room. A variety of activities and opportunities abound for those who enjoy hobbies, concerts, games, dances, and even excursions.

As the resident begins to need assistance with personal care needs like bathing, toileting or walking, they must move into the Assisted Living section of the CCRC. This area has more of a nursing presence and closer supervision of the residents. CNA’s, Home Health Aides, or Nurse Aides will assist with those personal care items that need help. With this transition usually comes a higher monthly cost.

Skilled Nursing Assistance is the highest level of care provided in CCRC’s. You would probably think of this as a Nursing Home, but still on the campus. It will have the highest monthly cost for the resident, but it provides constant nursing supervision of the resident. Frequently when a couple resides in a CCRC, and one spouse needs Skilled Nursing Services, the other spouse will need to remain at their current level of care unless both require the same level of care. It is sad when a couple married 60+ years must live separately because of the declining health of one.

Payment options for CCRC’s vary greatly. There are many models that may apply. Some require a large sum of money for an entry fee, but remain fairly consistent with the monthly residential fee, even when levels of care increase. Others require a minimal entry fee, but the resident is in a “pay as you go” program where every level of care costs significantly more than the one before.

You might want to check out Genworth’s Cost of Care resource:

So that’s more or less the rundown on CCRC’s. They can be very expensive but can also be very enjoyable for the socially active retiree. Be sure to ask lots of questions and understand the contract and its requirements. If your loved one has dementia, or if you suspect they might, be sure to ask if the CCRC has a Memory Care facility. That’s also critically important to know. Finally, ask if they allow private duty caregivers in their facilities, and how they screen and track those individuals. Arm yourself with knowledge and visit several times throughout the year before you decide to commit, so you can experience lots of different seasons and conditions within the community. The more you know, the better the decision you can make.

Planning to Win

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Being a family caregiver is a big job, and every task worth undertaking needs to be carefully planned. You know what they say: Failing to plan is planning to fail! So, what does your plan look like? Chris and I talk a lot about having a plan, because we have learned from owning our own business that a great plan can set you up for success. Likewise, just managing the day-to-day chaos with no real goal in sight can leave anyone feeling exhausted, frustrated, and like a dismal failure. Even worse, burnout comes on quickly if you just make up things as each day progresses.

If you’ve followed us here for any time at all you have seen information about having a plan. Family caregivers need to think through many different aspects of their responsibilities in order to have a sound working plan. Does your plan involve other family members, and do they know what they need to do should they get a quick call and need to go into action? What about neighbors or friends? Is their information kept current so, as needs change, they are still able to cover for you at a moment’s notice? Are all the medical documents, like Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and insurance cards readily available should they be needed quickly? How will financial matters be handled if something happens to you? While this type of situation is not something we relish considering, it is vital that your loved one’s care can continue seamlessly if you suddenly cannot provide the care yourself.

If you haven’t already done so, begin to have some open-ended conversations with others who might be a part of your plan, or at least join with you in the planning process. Thinking partners might help you see or consider things you otherwise might miss. This isn’t something you can accomplish over lunch on a Wednesday; it might take months to fully construct a solid strategy that covers all your bases. Bathe this process in prayer and ask others to also pray for God to reveal resources, helpers, respite options and advisors to assist you with building your plan.

Next, it’s important to remember that any good plan is always open for revision. Your care plan is a living, breathing, working framework that helps you stay organized and get everything done, but it’s also flexible and forgiving. It’s never concrete, never set in stone. At best it’s rubber or plastic, able to give when and where flexibility is needed.

Finally, how do you measure and celebrate the success of your plan? When implemented, does your plan work effectively? Where does it consistently fall short? How often do you evaluate your plan and make adjustments? You should ask yourself all these questions regularly to know whether your plan is working.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about planning your work and working your plan.

Sharing the Care

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Sometimes things fall apart, and as the family caregiver, you find yourself in need of someone who can share the care for a little while. This can happen when you or the one you care for has an unexpected situation that arises that makes care at home difficult or impossible for a time. Nothing is embarrassing or awkward about this situation; it’s just reality, and you need to be prepared when it happens.

Maybe you have an accident or illness that needs a period of rehabilitation. This type of thing happens to everyone eventually. What’s your plan? Do you have family members or friends who can step in and become a temporary caregiver while you recover? If not, what will you do?

It also might be that you need a break, a vacation from being a caregiver. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that you need a little time off. Remember, you must take care of yourself regularly when you are caring for another. Regularly taking time for your personal restoration will make you a better caregiver in the long run. But, again, who steps in to provide care while you are away? You must work this out BEFORE something happens that leaves everybody scrambling for a quick fix!

A temporary stay at a local Assisted Living Facility (ALF) could be your best solution. The right ALF is an excellent resource for your loved one who can do a lot for themselves but needs a little assistance to stay healthy and mostly independent. Some facilities even offer temporary respite stays to give family caregivers a short break. These senior communities provide your loved one their own space while also being a part of a broader community. There are usually group activities, communal meals in a dining room, and even trips for shopping or sight-seeing in the local area. There are medical services available, but your loved one is mostly independent within their own small efficiency apartment or room. Nobody will come and get them for group activities or meals unless you arrange for these services if they are not joiners. Medication reminders can also be set. An ALF offers some limited assistance, like help with bathing or dressing, and regulations for these facilities differ from state to state. The important thing for you to know is that you need to check out your local ALF options to ask about respite care stays and how much notice they would require should the need arise. The cost might also be a consideration.

At times a loved one’s care may move beyond what the family caregiver can offer. The declining ability could be caused by an infection or illness, a sudden fall, or a progressive chronic disease. When you can’t provide adequate care, there are several ways you can include others to safely and effectively meet your loved one’s care needs both now and in the future.

First, make an appointment with the doctor to determine if the issue can be resolved with medical intervention. Dehydration or a UTI can cause a rapid decline that reverses quickly with proper intervention. Loss of walking ability can be regained to some extent, with a referral to the right Home Health agency for gait training and leg-strengthening exercises.

Other loss of capacity is more lasting and can force you to move to a professional caregiver service. Home care organizations like Home Instead offer dependable, reliable, trained professional CAREGiversR that supplement or replace the care you provide. This may allow you to move back more into your original role as a family member who coordinates care.

Your loved one may require skilled care provided by the nursing staff in a more clinical setting in extreme cases. Wherever the care is given, and by whom, you are still the family caregiver. Your role becomes even more critical when you must take on a more administrative function to ensure that your loved one receives the best possible care.

Sharing the care takes on a whole new meaning when it grows from one person to an entire caregiver army. Wherever you are on the spectrum, we want to help you plan the best pathway to achieving your best life as a family caregiver!

Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about sharing the care.

Caregiving: A Labor of Love

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Often, family caregivers find themselves caring for aging family members who helped raise them through their most formative years. This is Grandparents’ Week, and throughout history, grandparents have played an invaluable role in raising their grandchildren. This was not my experience since my grandparents lived far away, and I saw them infrequently. Chris’s grandmothers were both very involved in his early years. In fact, his entire extended family was very close and gathered together as often as possible. All the adults helped, in some part, to raise the children. Our three children have a wealth of knowledge and instruction gleaned from time spent with older aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmothers alike.

Our families shape us in many ways as we grow from childhood into being an adult. How many of your values, morals, and spiritual beliefs have their foundations in lessons learned on your parents’ or grandparents’ knees? What life principles were discovered around the dining room table, or while you played in the yard while older family members sat in the shade and swapped stories? Whether or not you embraced all those wise nuggets, they helped mold you into the person you are today. Face it, you are made up of all those memories, experiences, wet kisses, and bear hugs.

Family caregivers are usually caring for people they love. Some provide care because they have no other choice; others step cheerfully into the role and greet each day with courage and hope. Whichever of these descriptions best fits your particular circumstance, one thing is true for both. There will be days when the family caregiver and the aging family member who needs care simply don’t like each other very much.

The pain point might arise over resistance to care or disagreement about how things should be done. Irritation can spark over the simplest of differences when pain, discomfort, fatigue, or even boredom are present. Being a family caregiver can feel lonely, unappreciated, and overwhelming. Add to that an uncooperative or defensive aging loved one, and the situation can quickly get out of hand. Words spoken in anger can leave invisible wounds not easily healed.

This is when caregiving becomes a labor of love because love overcomes all things!

As the Apostle Paul reminded us in 1 Cor. 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” Being a great family caregiver is, above all, dependent on love! And our God IS LOVE. When things get tense, take a deep breath and cling to Him. Maybe you need to step away for a moment (if it is safe to do so) and pray for patience, calm, and healing. Try to change the subject if possible; we call this redirecting when dealing with dementia. Most of all, regain your balance and help your loved one do the same. The moment will pass, and tomorrow is a new day. Love will win out over angry words when given a chance.

Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about caregiving as a labor of love.